A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

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Jean
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Jean »

Money mesures your participation in the global economy, and unless you've got you're own coal mine, that's where your impact happens.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by jacob »

The [jacob] metric came about because twenty years ago, I wanted to find out whether it was possible to live sustainably and equitably and whether it was possible to live a good life on that amount of resource use.

It is analogous to calculating the SWR for planetary resource withdrawal if all of humanity (present and future) had a joint account [of resources] and the rule was that one could not spend money that was meant for someone else.

For sure one can go into detail about specific investments and growth rates, adjustable withdrawal rates, or Purchasing Power Parities, but SWR provides a very nice and parsimonious short hand for getting the number in the right ball park. It also avoids people deluding themselves by trying to rationalize a number that is much different from the SWR calculation. E.g. a 3% SWR on index funds is more likely to have a solid plan than a day trader at 12%. Similarly, if you're spending $7000 in the general global economy, your impact is more likely to be smaller than if you're spending $28000 on "going green"---you simply have to be 4x more resource-efficient in the latter case and that's a tall order unless your consumption pattern is really really strange.

To make this calculation easy (rather than detailed and tremendously complicated), I simply used global numbers under the assumption that any of my spending would be someone else's buying and that someone else would eventually buy from the "average global economy" (where we know the resource extraction rate). I think that it is a decent assumption unless you (personally) live in a rather isolated commune with little/no outside trading with the general economy.

Thus, simply recalculate that number regularly ... and you'll find it automagically adjusting for population increase, planetary drawdown, economic growth, and inflation. For example, when I first calculated it in 2000, it was ~$6000/person/year. It has increased to $6750/person/year. Why the increase? Because inflation of the numerator has outrun increases in population and loss of planetary support systems. Note though, that $6000 in the year 2000 would be $9250 today ... so clearly we're losing ground. Why? Because while the median annual spend is actually less than "1 jacob" (as 7wb5 mentioned above), the average global is actually higher.

So feel free to do more complicated tracking. The strength of this metric is in its simplicity,tractability, and how it's reasonably accurate if not entirely precise in terms of measuring specific forms of pollution (like CO2) or resource use (e.g. steel).

A very similar "SWR" can be calculated for CO2 using the Kaya identity and the remaining Earth carbon budgets: https://www.mcc-berlin.net/en/research/co2-budget.html ... you know the remaining budget, you know the GDP, you know the current emission rate, and you know how many people you have to split it with. This tells you how much money you can burn (ha!) in the carbon economy. As the numbers adjust (budget goes down, CO2 intensity goes [hopefully] down, ...) just recalculate annually.

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Alphaville
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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

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Riggerjack wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 11:00 pm
So, does the price you pay ever become resources? Does it signal the further harvest of more resources, to fill this demand you create?
of course, but it doesn’t necessarily have to mean resources. it can also mean quality, or information, or resource-saving, or... druids :lol:

in an economy that doesn’t account for the ecology, a lot of things are accounted as free which aren’t.

if i enslave some prisoners to chop down a forest, the accounting books report that i got “free lumber”, but it doesn’t account for the loss of liberty nor the fact that there is no more forest.
Riggerjack wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 11:00 pm
But let me be clear. This is jacob's metric. I don't live by it, I don't even try. But I do admire it, it is an elegant and practical metric for some tricky concepts.
it’s a good starting approximation but the problem i have is not the approximation itself.

it’s that gdp is a deeply flawed metric.

if a person gets cancer and pays for expensive treatment, the gdp goes up.

if a parent quits working to educate a child, the gdp goes down.

if i destroy a forest with slaves i captured, the gdp goes up.

etc.
Riggerjack wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 11:00 pm
So I fully understand if you choose another metric, I just wanted to clarify the value of jacob's, as I saw it.
yeah, @daylen gave me a good explanation, i thought.

but just because i understand it, it doesn’ follow that i agree or it works for me.

my experience with limited money is that buys more inferior goods: hfcs, brazilian beef, dirty emissions, plastic garbage and throwaway goods, etc.
Jean wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 5:37 am
Money mesures your participation in the global economy, and unless you've got you're own coal mine, that's where your impact happens.
having your own coal mine means you participate in the global ecology—and that’s where your impact happens.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Jean »

You misunderstood me. I meant that if you had your own coal mine, you Can have an impact without participating in the global economy, and the metric gets less accurate. But most people need to spend money to realease significant amount of CO2.
Your examples prove our point, because if those gdp changes aren't linked to a change in value, they are for sure linked to an change in ressource consumption.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 8:58 am

To make this calculation easy (rather than detailed and tremendously complicated), I simply used global numbers under the assumption that any of my spending would be someone else's buying and that someone else would eventually buy from the "average global economy" (where we know the resource extraction rate). I think that it is a decent assumption unless you (personally) live in a rather isolated commune with little/no outside trading with the general economy.
i’m not looking for a more refined calculation derived from a measure of the wrong things.

i’m looking for a way to measure things right in the first place. i’m just not there yet.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Alphaville »

Jean wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 9:24 am
You misunderstood me. I meant that if you had your own coal mine, you Can have an impact without participating in the global economy, and the metric gets less accurate. But most people need to spend money to realease significant amount of CO2.
Your examples prove our point, because if those gdp changes aren't linked to a change in value, they are for sure linked to an change in ressource consumption.
i used to live around people with little gdp impact who burn “free” forests and keep “free” cows.

now i pay money for my energy use but it’s actually more efficient and less impactful than as an isolated homesteader—the local utility is actually building a solar electric plant with my money (in a way).

gdp does not tell you what the money buys. does not account for the difference between solar or coal. does not care if you buy lentils or pvc resin or cancer treatment. it’s a deeply flawed metric, almost to the point of uselessness for my purposes.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Jean »

Wood is only free if you let it regrow, cows are only free if they eat grass that regrows. Otherwise, you have to buy cattle food or new forests.
Your really need to want it, if you try to release more co2 while spending less.
Local goods cost more, because local farmer get to consume more, or pay more taxes that are thé used for gouvernement consumption. Thé atmosphère doesn't Care if you use ressources to build Solar panel, feed peoples, cure cancer, or drive a Porsche.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Alphaville »

Jean wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 9:49 am
Wood is only free if you let it regrow, cows are only free if they eat grass that regrows. Otherwise, you have to buy cattle food or new forests.
correct. hence we have deforestation and overgrazing, which are a loss of ecological capital the gdp does not account for.
Jean wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 9:49 am
Thé atmosphère doesn't Care if you use ressources to build Solar panel, feed peoples, cure cancer, or drive a Porsche.
without anthropomorphizing the atmosphere— yes, it does. and so carbon labeling will show you things that the market price hides.

but it goes beyond carbon label obviously.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Hristo Botev »

I waded through the past few days' posts this morning on this topic, and this is all just sounding like the techno-optimist thing to me. Jacob's number seems to focus in on consumption (in all its forms) as being the root problem. Whereas a more techno-optimist view would be to focus less on overall levels of consumption and more on the kinds of consumption (e.g., the techno-optimist wouldn't see a problem spending $50K or whatever on solar panels and a state-of-the-art storage battery so as to sustainably maintain current levels of individual energy usage). Both the "how much" and the "how" of consumption are of course important, but the discussion that's been going on here the past couple days is a question of priorities. And to try and draw this discussion back to the stated topic--policy solutions to slow down CC--the priorities matter, because a "how much" priority likely would look to something like a carbon tax (i.e., factoring environmental impact into the end price of a good), the primary result of which I think would be overall less consumption, and a secondary effect would be more environmentally-friendly consumption. A "how" prioritization, on the other hand, would be more focused on incentivizing and subsidizing certain industries/technologies over others--with government (and, yes, the Michael Bloombergs and Jeff Bezozes of the world) picking winners and losers. Anyway, seems the priority--at least for the type of folks most likely to stumble across Jacob's blog/book/forum--really should be primarily on the "how much," and much less on the "how."

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Alphaville »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 10:07 am
Anyway, seems the priority--at least for the type of folks most likely to stumble across Jacob's blog/book/forum--really should be primarily on the "how much," and much less on the "how."
but prices that ignore the externalities do not tell you the real “how much.” hence you’re working under false assumptions.

79c/lb chicken or $1.99/lb beef is cheap when you can sweep the ecological cost of production under the rug.

it’s a form of embezzlement.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Hristo Botev »

We all (again, those likely to come across ERE) have to learn to live with less, both to slow down CC and also to prepare ourselves for the effects of CC. The 1Jacob seems a pretty damn good calculation as to what that might look like.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Alphaville »

but people already “living with less” (not aspiring to) are highly reliant on oil which artificially makes agribusiness and plastic production and global transportation appear “cheap” :lol:

and a rural electric coop i was hooked up to used to send letters to its members asking them to politically oppose coal emission regulations because it would make electricity cost more. right here in the desert, where we already suffer from climate change the most! :lol:

mainstream accounting is perverse.
Last edited by Alphaville on Sat Nov 28, 2020 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by jacob »

@Alphaville - (precise, accurate, simple) --- pick any two but only two. I picked accurate&simple for my calculation. You're definitely arguing for precision but I'm not sure whether you prefer to sacrifice accuracy or simplicity to get it.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

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jacob wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 11:54 am
@Alphaville - (precise, accurate, simple) --- pick any two but only two. I picked accurate&simple for my calculation. You're definitely arguing for precision but I'm not sure whether you prefer to sacrifice accuracy or simplicity to get it.
i’m not arguing for precision, but against false certainties/platonizing. i don’t think there are any precisions to be had in this complexity. perhaps i’m looking for a qualitative approach.

i’m not saying this as an attack against you btw. it’s easy to read it that way because people/tribes personalize concepts and develop loyalties. but i’m open minded and questioning, so i must question.

and it looks like what i’m looking for is to be found in ecological economics—which is a fairly new way of thinking and frankly looks like a deeeeeep rabbit hole. but it jives more with some intuitions i’ve had for life which i did not have the tools to conceptualize

in my early days as a biologist i walked away from the whole discipline because i realized that my pursuit of knowledge was just the intellectual branch of a global resource depredation enterprise. i didn’t wait for retirement, i just walked and went to find my meaning elsewhere, away from money. it was a very sort of “instinctual” thing.

after many years as a humanities and anti-money person, and tired of being poor (lol) i left again to pursue business and learn classical economics. so i became pro-money.

then i tried homesteading and focusing on the micro. then i went back to the mainstream. etc. and i’ve always had affinities with hippies and permaculturists but then i get a sense of running into a wall.

so right now i’m standing at the doorstep of ecological economics and saying “wait a second... this makes more sense than everything i’ve seen before.”

i don’t think a lifetime is enough to cover what’s already been created in the short history of the field but i’m going to take a look.

and philosophically, i think i can’t help to be headed that way... it’s a better synthesis of our knowledge than the aggregate byproducts of 14th century accounting. looking at the economy as a subset of ecology makes perfect sense to me. a bit of a unified field theory so to speak.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by jacob »

Ohh, there is precision to be had, but it involves complicated tracking of each resource from the "well head" origin all the way over the point of consumption and into the disposal or recycling. Such multi-resource life-cycle costing calculations would track hundreds if not thousands of variables and links. They are handled in giant matrix tables.

When researchers try to calculate the CO2 footprint of e.g. an airplane trip or seek some kind of "green certification" on a product, they do such life-cycle calculations. It's also possible to do those on a specific person or budget which requires even more numbers.

IOW, simplicity is sacrificed.

However, the risk [for individual consumers] is that focusing too microscopically on a single product (like your current obsession/fascination with beef) will ignore the bigger picture. Not saying that this is what's going on here. However, this fallacy is being exploited to the max in "greenwashing" products or entire lifestyles ("the green consumer"). E.g. by selling CO2 offsets to justify air travel (like paying someone else to diet for you) or justifying massive high-tech industries with enormous footprints by virtue of the end-product, like an electric car, has zero CO2 output per mile.

IOW, accuracy is sacrificed.

TL;DR - What you seek actually exists, but it is not simple to use (too much math) and therefore typically not accurate (much math gets ignored). Add: Try not to get lost when you go down the rabbit hole of precision... or go down the wrong rabbit hole.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Jean »

Externalities are a form cheating. You use ressources you don't own. There is no reason to think people will cheat less if there is carbon labeling.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

Maybe what is not abundantly obvious is that to the extent you close loops or manifest skills within your personal economy, 1 Jacob/year spending will correlate with higher quality of life. For simple instance, a pack of heirloom tomato seeds costs about the same as a large bag of hot chips. A used guitar costs about the same as Monster Truck Rally tickets.

Quality of life is just more difficult to measure although there are economists who are making the attempt. For instance, the author of “Doughnut Economics” which I recommended elsewhere.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:23 pm
Ohh, there is precision to be had [...]IOW, simplicity is sacrificed.
ah, i see what you mean now. but no, i’m not looking for that. that is an impractical way to live.

jacob wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:23 pm
However, the risk [for individual consumers] is that focusing too microscopically on a single product (like your current obsession/fascination with beef) will ignore the bigger picture. [...] IOW, accuracy is sacrificed.
well im not obsessed with beef just like i’m no longer obsessed with cigarettes—i’m just quitting after realizing it’s bad for me. not as a greenwashing (i hear you on the greenwashing, it’s marketing bullshit) but as a way of seeking pareto efficiencies at a personal level.

cut out the most harm, move on to the next iteration. i’ll take an easy win but that doesn’t mean i’m just stopping there.

i don’t have a car, i don’t have a big house, i don’t go on “vacations,” i don’t use a lot of utilities... beef happened to be the most recent excision of bloat based on new (to me, but also to climate research) data.

successive approximations work in mathematics as well as behavioral change.
jacob wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:23 pm
TL;DR - What you seek actually exists, but it is not simple to use (too much math) and therefore typically not accurate (much math gets ignored).
i trust you on principle, you’ve proven to be a person of integrity, but i have to go see for myself what these people have been doing, and find my own perspective. i’m looking at the bibliography right now looking for a starting text.

Jean wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:25 pm
Externalities are a form cheating. You use ressources you don't own. There is no reason to think people will cheat less if there is carbon labeling.
correct. exploiting resources one doesn’t account for makes things appear “low price” in the market.

im not getting hung up on carbon labeling—that’s just an example of how price and ecological impact do not match and are often inversely correlated.

i’m not looking to get lost in details but searching for a better paradigm to see the big picture.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

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7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:30 pm
, a pack of heirloom tomato seeds costs about the same as a large bag of hot chips. A used guitar costs about the same as Monster Truck Rally tickets.
yeeees, precisely. you get what i mean. prices lie.

(and i get what you mean by skills but leaving them out for a moment)
7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:30 pm
Quality of life is just more difficult to measure although there are economists who are making the attempt.
without getting all robert pirsig about it, i’m sort of looking for a quality-first approach from which figures can be deduced, rather than trying to induce quality from distorted/distorting gaap aggregates.

ecological economics seems to be about that. but i’m currently stuck on wikipedia level readings and looking for an introductory text.
7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:30 pm
For instance, the author of “Doughnut Economics” which I recommended elsewhere.
and got quickly written off by the xix-century paradigmatists as i recall? which is my problem with mainstream economics: it’s artificially incomplete. “don’t look at the full reality, that’s not how we do economics!”

i was in the middle of something else when you mentioned that book, i’ll see where it fits in the curriculum, thanks again.

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Re: A Conservative Policy Solution to Slow Down Climate Change?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

It’s not even internally consistent. See “Debunking Economics” by Keen. That said, it does work well for many micro situations. Who wouldn’t want 3 packets of heirloom tomato seeds for the price of two?

@ white belt:

My teenage step-daughter who liked to fish once made me promise that I’d cook a carp if she caught one from nearby river. As I recall, the consensus of suggested recipes it was something about the flesh staying unpleasantly damp and mushy even when cooked, so recommended making into something like fish cakes, so breading could absorb excess moisture and lend substance.

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